The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Lagos state chapter has concluded a stakeholders validation conference on local government policy framework for persons with disabilities (PWDs) with a resolution to protect and promote the rights, welfare and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the 57 LGAs Local Government Areas (LGAs) and LCDAs of Lagos state.
At a press conference which was jointly organized with Hope Inspired Foundation for Youths and Women with Disabilities and Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP), the State Chairman of JONAPWD Lagos State Chapter – Dr. Adebukola Adebayo stated that “the local government Disability policy framework was developed to complement on-going efforts by Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) to strengthen the capacity of the 57 LGAs and LCDAs in mainstreaming disability inclusion in their operations, policies and programs.
“The framework was developed in line with relevant provisions of the Lagos State Special People’s Law (LSSPL), Lagos State Local Government Law, the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act of 2018, the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
“The key goal of this Lagos state Local Government Disability framework is the achievement of the rights of persons with disabilities to disability-inclusive communities in Lagos State through effective mainstreaming of disability inclusion in the constitutional functions of local government councils” he further stated.
INN reports that the Lagos State Government enacted Lagos State Special People’s Law in June 2011 and established the Office for Disability Affairs in Juy 2012. The Special People’s Law (SPL) does not make any provisions to mandate Local Government Councils to ensure disability inclusion in their functions, policies, and programs. However, LASODA has been making efforts to sensitize Local Government Councils on the purpose with the use of SPL.
As at August 2023, none of the 57 Local Government Councils and Local Council Development Areas have put in place any institutional and policy frameworks to promote disability inclusion. Only two LCDAs, Lagos Island and Isolo, each have a PWD as an appointed Special Adviser on Disability, and an elected Councillor respectively. In the absence of a documented institutional and policy framework on disability inclusion, most of the Local Government Councils only try to make charitable efforts of providing empowerment tokens to PWDs within their jurisdiction” Adebayo lamented
Accordingly, there has been a near total absence of disability inclusion in the policies, programs and activities of the 57 Local Government Councils in Lagos State. Due to the absence of a Local Government Disability policy framework, up to 95% of persons with disabilities who reside in local (mostly rural) communities which fall within the administrative purview of Local Government Councils are compelled to live in extremely poor socio-economic conditions and are unable to escape from poverty traps. Their living conditions are further worsened by the lack of access to basic social services provided by Local Government Councils such as early child rehabilitation and support services, primary health care services, basic education, community-based adult rehabilitation services, micro and small-scale business and economic support services, family and elderly support services, etc. Women, girls, and youth with disabilities are even worse.
INN reports that the event, which includes representatives from across Disability clusters in Lagos State, agrees that the Local Government Councils should put in place frameworks for regulating persons with disabilities in their domains; works in conjunction with Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) to provide efficient and effective service delivery to the disability community in Lagos State at the grassroots level to relieve the burden of placing heavy dependence on LASODA.
Disability clusters at the conference described the pathetic conditions of living in their Local Government Councils whereas little or nothing tangible is being done to ensure PWDs enjoy a better living conditions. “The struggles to get attention of the management of the Local Government Councils have to be intense before you are attended to” is a testimony many PWDs are familiar with in their Local Government Areas.
The groups agreed that the validation exercise was necessary to enact best practices as obtained universally by inclusion of disability policy at the grassroots level.
Stakeholders also agreed to launch the policy framework and a date has been set aside by JONAPWD Lagos state chapter with all LGAs and LCDAs representatives expected at the event.